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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. THOMAS JANIAK (12/11/87)

filed: December 11, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
THOMAS JANIAK



Appeal from the Order in the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Criminal Division, No. 86-10, 975.

COUNSEL

Kenneth Osokow, Assistant District Attorney, Williamsport, for Com., appellant.

Nancy Butts, Williamsport, for appellee.

Wieand, Tamilia and Cercone, JJ.

Author: Tamilia

[ 368 Pa. Super. Page 627]

This is a timely appeal by the Commonwealth of a trial court Order granting appellee's motion to suppress evidence, in the form of the results of a blood test, obtained by police as the result of the police stopping appellee's automobile on September 12, 1986. Appellee is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, 75 Pa.C.S. ยง 3731(a)(4).

The pertinent factual circumstances leading to appellee's arrest as found by the suppression court are as follows:

On September 12, 1986 two officers of the Williamsport Bureau of Police were in a police cruiser on duty in Williamsport at approximately 2:59 a.m. when they received a radio communication from County Communication facility that an individual had been reported in an intoxicated condition near gas pumps at a convenience store which was located one long block to the south and a long block to the west of the officers' location. That first dispatch indicated that the individual was about to drive away. The officers immediately turned in a southerly

[ 368 Pa. Super. Page 628]

    direction and as they approached the intersection with the east-west street they received a second telecommunication that the individual was now driving in an easterly direction on West Third Street. That would mean, according to the report, the vehicle would be proceeding from right to left on the intersecting street. The officers had seen no traffic going in any direction on the street that they had been on originally, no traffic going in either direction on the north-south street that they were presently on, and there was only one vehicle on the east-west intersecting street. That vehicle was somewhat to the east of the convenience market proceeding in an easterly direction toward the officers. The officers waited until the vehicle passed their location and then they made a left turn so as to follow the vehicle. They immediately activated their lights and stopped the vehicle at the next intersection. The only observation that they made with respect to the manner of operation of the vehicle was that it was proceeding at 15 to 20 miles per hour. Both officers stated that the sole reasons for their stop were (a) the report that an intoxicated individual was operating the vehicle, and (b) their belief under all of the circumstances that the vehicle could only be the one in question.

(Slip Op., Raup, P.J., 2/4/87, pp. 1-2.)

We have before us the sole issue of whether the arresting officers had a legal basis to stop appellee's vehicle and investigate his condition.

The standard for appellate review of an Order suppressing evidence was well stated by our Court in Commonwealth v. White, 358 Pa. Super. ...


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